Given the massive number of movies coming and going every year, it’s no surprise that every so often, good films manage to go completely overlooked. Sometimes, it has to do with nonexistent marketing, limited distribution or simply bad timing that caused them to slip through the cracks. The fact is there is many gems waiting to be found for movie lovers pinning for something off the beaten path.
The following is an eclectic list of 10 movie gems worth seeking out when you get bored with the generic Hollywood movies you have been watching. There wasn’t any real guideline to make the list but 8 of those movies have less than 20,000 votes on IMDb. Charming and thought-provoking, unique and hard-hitting; here are 10 criminally overlooked movies you should see now.
You Can Count on Me (2000)
A film as rich, restrained and subtle as You Can Count On Me is a true delight and quite a rarity in the world of cinema. Featuring stunning performances from Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo, this little gem revolves around two siblings who have very little in common except for the tragic loss of their parents. Orphaned as children, they have grown up counting on each other. Sammy (Linney) is a single mother of an 8-year-old boy (Rory Culkin), living a seemingly peaceful life in her small hometown in Upstate New York. The return of her brother (Ruffalo), a likable drifter who always needs money, is the catalyst for turmoil and dysfunction in the family. This wonderful character-driven look into a brother-sister relationship is blessed with gentle humor and poignant heartbreak, never lending itself to melodrama or cliched pop montage.
I’m Not Scared (2003)
A suspenseful and haunting thriller about a 10-yr old boy who discovers a terrible secret, I’m Not Scared is a masterfully crafted film directed by Gabriele Salvatores, director of the Oscar winning film Mediterraneo (Best Foreign Language Film, 1991). During a carefree summer in his remote southern Italian vllage, Michele (Guiseppe Cristiano) makes an unspeakable discovery, a ghostly little boy his own age chained to the ground at the bottom of a dark pit. Over time, a bond forms between the two and Michele does his best to feed and entertain the captive boy. But it isn’t long before Michele makes a connection between a high profile kidnapping and the little boy in the cellar.
Never Let Me Go (2010)
All children should believe they are special. But the students of Hailsham, a British boarding school, are so special that no one ever mentions their parents, and only little by little do they discover their unconventional origins and chilling purpose in life. Like the children of Hailsham, we are only allowed to slowly uncover the secrets of Hailsham and the truth about these children on our own. Narrating the story throughout is the placid, reflective voice of Kathy H. (Carey Mulligan), a 31-year-old Hailsham alumna who is waiting to fulfill her purpose. Although often poignant, Kathy’s matter-of-fact narration blunts the sharper emotional effects you might expect in a story that deals with illness, self-sacrifice, and tragic predestination. Only after the movie is over do you absorb the true magnitude of what the characters endure. An adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s celebrated sixth novel, Never Let Me Go is a truly haunting and thought-provoking film, one that will remain with you long after the final frame.
City Lights (1931)
A silent romantic comedy as funny as it is romantic; City Lights is Charlie Chaplin at the peak of his career. Made in 1931 when talking pictures had already made their appearance, this film nonetheless became an instant success. This simple but sublime story revolves around the Little Tramp (Chaplin) who meets and falls in love with a blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill). She needs an operation to restore her sight, so he sets out to earn the money doing various jobs, making for some hilarious montages. After all the superb comic sequences, the film culminates with one of the most moving endings in the history of cinema, a luminous and heartbreaking fade-out that lifts the picture onto another plane. Chaplin’s message is unspoken, but universally understood: Love is blind.
To Live (1994)
One of the best films of the 1990′s, To Live is a thoroughly sweeping masterpiece from Zhang Yimou. This has to be one of the most underrated movie of all time with less than 9,000 votes tallied on IMDb. Starring Gong Li with whom he has repeatedly collaborated with, Zhang crafts an ambitious story of personal and political events, revolving around the struggles of an impoverished husband and wife (Ge You, Gong Li) from their abundant heydays in the 1940′s to the hardships that accompanied the Cultural Revolution in the 1960′s. They raise two children amidst a Communist regime, surviving numerous setbacks and yet managing, somehow, to live. Epic in its scope but always intimate in its focus, Zhang’s film encompasses the simplest and most profound realities of Chinese life during this turbulent period. For his brutal honesty, the director was banned for two years from filmmaking. To Live celebrate the tenacity of ordinary people in the wake of profound social and historical events.
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